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Ringo lifts himself toward some lofty goals

Say one thing for Steve Ringo: He thinks ahead.

Way ahead.

Years ahead, actually.

Central High made its name last year as a state-level weightlifting team, but Hernando High's Ringo is an individual performing at the same level.

The junior might be the only one not surprised he is a contender for a state title, considering he never qualified for state before.

But it was all according to plan.

"I knew last year that I was going to be a strong contender this year," Ringo said. "I set up goals for the years to come, and I figured that with how I did my 10th-grade year that in my 11th-grade year I would have a shot at the title. This is going according to what I had set.

"In fact, I've pretty much set what I want to do my senior year."

Which is?

"Are you sure you want to know?"

Yep.

"I think I will bench around over 400 (pounds) and clean-and-jerk somewhere around 300. I'll want to win state, probably at 183 (weight division)."

First, he must concern himself with this season. But so far, so great. Ringo is undefeated in the 169-pound and 183-pound divisions entering today's dual competition at Central.

Ringo, 17, proved to be a state-level athlete in the first contest of the season, qualifying for state at both 169 and 183 by lifting a combined 530 pounds. To qualify at 169, a combined 480 is required. At 183, it is 490.

(Weightlifting contests comprise two events, the bench press and the clean-and-jerk. The weight from the lifter's best effort in each are combined for a score.)

Ringo hopes to set a state record in the bench press at the state meet. He surpassed the current state record for 169-pounders, coincidentally set by Central's Josh Mejia, who graduated.

Mejia benched 340 pounds in last year's state meet, where Central took second as a team led by Bryan Goolsby's state title. Last week at a four-team meet at South Sumter, Ringo benched 350.

State records can be set only at the state tournament, so Ringo's accomplishment is purely unofficial. But he plans to make it official at the state meet.

The bench is by far Ringo's forte, but his clean-and-jerk has improved substantially this season, thanks to instruction from new coach Bill Browning. But Ringo modestly admitted his form still has a way to go.

"(Browning) really helped me a lot with technique on the clean-and-jerk," Ringo said. "So I've gone from very poor technique to, well, average-to-a-little-above-average."

Unlike the bench press, which is relatively straightforward, the clean-and-jerk _ which involves lifting the weight from the ground to the chest and then pressing it over the head _ requires careful timing and meticulous form.

Ringo's best clean-and-jerk is 210, but he is certain he can do better. He might not need to do much better if his bench is strong at state.

"I'm saving everything for state, and I can win easily with less than 210," he said. "I'm not saying I'm going to win, but I have a chance at it."

Ringo, who stands about 5 feet 7, sports upper arms that measure almost 18 inches around and a chest of 44 inches, the products of workouts six days a week.

A superior student with a 3.7 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, the native Brooksville resident has been lifting weights since sixth grade.

"It usually takes something pretty important for me to miss a workout," he said. "It's just something that I like to do. It has become a hobby. It's not really like "working out.' It's more like something I find fun and enjoy doing."

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